Charles MacMahon

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Goldfields Involvement, 1854

0n 21 October 1854 Charles MacMahon, acting Head of the Police force, and Police Magistrate E.P.S. Sturt, arrived in Ballarat from Melbourne.

Post 1854 Experiences


The principal Government officer at Ballarat was Fenwick, the resident commissioner. He was not a success. Neither was J. M. Clow, sometimes spoken of as Ole Clo' who shortly relieved him, and he in turn was retraced by Colonel (Cockey) Rede, afterwards sheriff of Melbourne, who still survives, looking hale and well. Rede continued to hold office up to the time of the Eureka riots in December, 1854.
The assistant gold commissioners, the equivalents of the wardens of the present day, were Bury, Sherard, Amos (lost in the London), Brackenbury (one of the most amusing and clever of scapegraces), Le Couterer, Johnston (for many years after judge sioners). Webster, who still kicks the beam at something about. 24st., is spending the evening of his days at Greensborough, in the pleasant pursuit of fowl farming.
John D'Ewes succeeded Eyre as police magistrate, and held office until the riots, when he fell into grievous disrepute in connection with the affair of Bentley's Hotel.
The police department was represented at various times by Superintendent Henry (Tony) Foster and Gordon Evans. Foster had put in some years as a medical student, and his kindness to the sick and injured may-be said to have been the founder, few subsequently removed to Carlsruhe. Captain (afterwards Sir Charles MacMahon was Chief Commissioner at the time. Evans reported on of his junior officers for same breach of duty. This officer, retaliated by charging him with some offence of an earlier date, which, on being proved, led to Evans's retirement. The matters charged against the junior officer were not of much importance, or were not proved, but seeing that this officer had known of the misconduct of his senior long before he reported it, Captain MacMahon insisted on his removal also from the service. This was a severe but most proper exercise of discipline.
The junior officers of police were De Courcey Hamilton, afterwards chief con stable of Devonshire; Arnold, killed in 1859, in a coach accident near Kilmore; Carter, the first, during the Eureka fight, to reach the drill tent of the insurgents; Ximenes, who had served with distinction under Sir De Lacy Evans, Taylor, Greene, Chomley (now Chief Commissioner of Police), and myself. Colonel Russell and Lieutenant Baylis, the officers in charge of a company of army pensioners, represented the military. There were, besides, a gold receiver, a commissariat officer, an architect, a surgeon, a surveyor, not to mention a number of clerks, police cadets, sergeants, and constables.
It has been the general impression that the camp officials as a body were responsible for the dissatisfaction that culminated in the Eureka outbreak. Nothing could be more erroneous, for, excepting one or two individuals, I can bear testimony to the high sense of duty that prevailed amongst all the higher officers. More than this, it was within my own knowledge that these officers repeatedly represented to Government the expediency of relaxing the regulations that pressed so hard on the mining and business community.[1]

See also

John Sadlier

Further Reading

Corfield, J.,Wickham, D., & Gervasoni, C. The Eureka Encyclopaedia, Ballarat Heritage Services, 2004.


  1. The Australasian, 19 February 1898.

External links